Do I Have To?
the knowledge comes to me
that I have space
for a second,
This quote by Rilke (“I Love My Being’s Dark Hours”) found me at just the right moment. I was sinking into some habitually dark hours of my own, focusing on the lack of clarity about my future. Reading it, my breath softened in my chest, as things quieted and released around me. My response to it was visceral rather than intellectual; I don’t believe or understand this, as much as I feel it.
I thought I was done. Really. I’ve had a great career at Kripalu, teaching, coaching and writing for these twenty-six years. It has been both a privilege and a blessing to be a part of so many people’s lives and to have learned so very much in the process. I had imagined that, as I got older and more weary of the grind of a forty-hour week, of showing up early, of staying late, of teaching (I HAVE BEEN CONSISTENTLY TEACHING FOR 46 YEARS.), that I would wind down hours, teach a bit, always have Kripalu programs to keep my heart open to the process, to keep some money and clients flowing in. For reasons I don’t understand, Kripalu no longer represents this to me. Nothing is wrong—it is just different now. And in this emerging difference, I realize, to my dismay, that I am just simply not done. Not done doing what, I ask myself? Not done—being of service, not done bringing in an income, not done offering what I have learned to the world? I guess all of the above. Retirement? I don’t think so. Rewire-ment sounds more like it.
Who might I be, if I wasn’t working full time in that building on the hill? How might my wires be re-ordered? It sounds so simple, so obvious. I could sit with you while you work through a transition of this nature—I could help you breathe and relax, open to new possibilities, to imagine what might be and so on. Yet, can I sit with myself? Can I sit with my own vulnerability, with that terrified little child in me who hides behind the grownup facilitator, the person with the microphone and the illusion of control?
I know I can do this—I just don’t feel that yet. And I guess that’s a good enough place to be.
I want to see myself bigger than and beyond that Kripalu building. Developmentally, it appears, I am compelled to see what else might be alive for me professionally. Nothing has to happen now; no proclamations need to be declared. I am simply in a process of widening my lens. And, quite frankly, I am not yet delighted about this opportunity. It frightens me to the bone. Yet the universe seems to be aligning to offer me assuring comfort and general possibilities. (No specifics, yet, damn it.) The first general comfort was this Rilke verse that made its way to me. It grabbed my heart; it softened and soothed it.
The second universal intervention/reassurance happened last week, while coaching a woman. Her husband, in his early sixties, was in the final months of his life; his living with Alzheimer’s was ending. She was honest and raw and opened with me, her big blue eyes seemingly getting bigger as she talked. She looked at me, took a breath and said, “My life lies in front of me”. Her words chilled me, inspired me, and encouraged me. She taught me.
My life does lie in front of me. I have zero idea what might unfold, but I do believe that, one step at a time, more will be revealed. I believe that my “second, timeless larger life” is in front of me, my final chapter of dharma, waiting, opening its arms—not in my timetable—but waiting, nevertheless. And all I have to do today is nothing—just to show up, do my best to be right here, right now—and to allow the future to beckon me.
Do you relate to any of this, dear readers? What is calling you forward in your life? Are there surprise detours awaiting you? Do you feel a fluidity in your dharma, in your purpose, summoning you? What do you make of this?